The first day of school is always awful. Well, for me, at least. I'm not great at meeting people or being social or any of that. Icebreakers are the absolute worst for me. “Okay, everyone say your name, your favorite holiday, and the coolest thing you've ever done with craft paper.” “Um... Josh... uh... Lincoln's Birthday... hm... 'Do not disturb' sign for my doorknob.” The only thing you've learned about me is that I'm not great at being put on the spot. The first day of kindergarten was particularly rough for me. I had to answer all of the icebreaker questions, plus one.
“What happened to your eye?”
My mom was a single mom. Possibly the singlest mom. She worked in some capacity for some kind of medical something for most of my childhood. I have no idea what this place did or does or if it still exists. Maybe it never existed in the first place, and she just told me that's where she was all day so she'd have an excuse to put me in day care. Whatever works, man. The place she sent me to was called The Knowledge Barn. A bit of quick research shows that The Knowledge Barn closed down about three or so years ago, so if you were thinking of sending your kids there after reading this post, tough shit.
The Knowledge Barn was no different than any other pre-school or day care or whatever. There were mats and blocks and a playground and snack time and nap time. I could never fall asleep for nap time. It was right after noon. You gotta be shitting me, right? A 12:30 nap? Come on. Nap time was right before whatever it was they called “going outside and throwing dirt at each other” time. I usually spent both hours playing Game Boy, because I'll be Goddamned if I'm going to throw dirt at some stupid kid. I have something called “quiet dignity,” thank you very kindly.
One afternoon I was goaded into wrasslin' in the dirt with some kid. We were each supposed to represent somebody affiliated with the WWF. He picked Bret “The Hitman” Hart. I was that panda. We were punching and grappling or whatever you do, when he decided it was time to do his patented move. I was never a huge fan of the WWF, so when he told me that Mr. Hart's signature move was to throw me into the fence, I had no reason to doubt him.
He grabbed me by the arm and started to swing me around. He let me go, flying towards the chicken wire fence. My whole body slammed, spread eagle, into the fence. I tried to whirl around to get my revenge, except my face was caught. Right above my left eyebrow, a little to the left of the arch, a nail had lodged itself into my head. I'm pretty sure I fainted. I don't remember how I made it from Dirt Clod Park into the kitchen of The Knowledge Barn, but I have a permanent image of a bucket full of soapy, bloody water located right below my face. I sat there, pressing a sponge onto my head for what seemed like forever, waiting for my mom to get off of work and pick me up. The fine Knowledge Barn staff didn't call my mom, seeing as they figured she'd just get off work fifteen minutes later. True story.
My mom did the requisite yelling at the staff for not giving her an excuse to leave work early, and then yelled at me for “fucking around with that idiot kid.” It was the first time I remember my mom swearing, so that's in there forever. We made our way to Cape Cod Hospital, where I got a dozen or so stitches and my very own eyepatch. Apparently if the nail hit me anywhere but exactly where it did, I'd be dead or blind or paralyzed or something equally awful. So lucky me, right? Right.
For me, the most important thing to keep in mind when meeting a big group of scary new people is to never do anything to stand out. Certainly not right away. Make sure to not wear anything that would make you noticeable. Like, you know, an eyepatch. I eventually didn't need it anymore and went back to normal. I got to blend in and be like the rest of the two-eyed children.
It seemed that every few years I'd get to return to school fresh from the emergency room. Right before fifth grade, my right arm popped out of its socket, so I got to wear a sling. Seventh grade was crutches for something – I don't even remember what. My first day of high school was made notable by an operation on a smallish, likely cancerous mole behind my right ear, which forced me to make the decision between shaving my whole head that morning, or just a portion. The journey into my senior year was made all the better by new glasses.
If I were the type of person who thought that stuff meant things, I'd take a long look at this pattern. There would have to be something there, right? Yeah? No. Probably not.
Josh Grimmer lives in Hollywood with his wife and cat. He kinda sorta runs this blog, and has another one at http://mousebed.blogspot.com. Twitter him up at http://twitter.com/JoshGrimmer